RACINE COUNTY — This month’s “polar vortex” pushed We Energies customers to break the southeast Wisconsin-based company’s record of natural gas used in a single 24-hour period.
The final tally for the record-breaking day was about 19.2 million therms used by the company’s 1.1 million natural gas customers as of 9 a.m. Jan. 7 for the preceding 24 hours, which is about 7 percent higher than the last record set in 2009, said spokesman Brian Manthey Thursday.
“We set the mark even though the area did not record a record low temperature, which signifies the growth of customers using natural gas to heat their homes and businesses,” he said.
Although records are yet in for how much natural gas customers are using this month and at what price, Manthey said a brisk December pushed up natural gas usage and monthly bills last month.
He said customers used 40 percent more gas in December of 2013 than they did in December of 2012, which helped lead to a $30 increase to the average residential customer’s bill.
He explained that the large jump in usage is due to December of 2012 being warmer than usual and December of 2013 being colder than usual.
“March was colder than December last [winter],” he said. “There was a huge difference in weather.”
Manthey said natural gas customers are paying $6 less than the average of the past five years and $18 less than the 10-year average.
“The price people are paying is so much lower than it was five years ago or even 10 years ago,” said Manthey. “It’s just this year customers used so much more because of the cold weather.”
Citing a previous We Energies press release, Manthey noted in an email that the typical customer uses 900 therms a year, about two-thirds of which are used during winter.
In December, the average residential customer paid $129 for 164 therms of heat, and Manthey expected cost and usage to be higher for January.
By the numbers
129: The average We Energies customer used 164 therms of natural gas in December and paid $129 for the month.
40: Customers used 40 percent more natural gas in December 2013 than in December 2012.
19.20: The record of the most natural gas used in a 24-hour period was set at 9 a.m. Jan 7, with 19.20 million therms used in the preceding 24 hours.
17.88: The last record was set Jan. 15 2009 with 17.88 million therms used in 24 hours.